Corticotropin releasing factor (CRF) is a major mediator of central nervous system responses to stressors, including alterations in wakefulness and sleep. However, its role in mediating stress-induced alterations in sleep has not been fully delineated. In this study, we assessed the role of CRF and the non-specific CRF antagonist, astressin (AST), in regulating changes in sleep produced by signaled, escapable shock (SES) and signaled inescapable shock (SIS), two stressors that can increase or decrease sleep, respectively. Male BALB/cJ mice were surgically implanted with transmitters (DataSciences ETA10-F20) for recording EEG, activity and core body temperature by telemetry and a cannula for intracerebroventricular (ICV) microinjections. After baseline (Base) sleep recording, mice were presented tones (90 dB, 2 kHz) that started 5.0 s prior to and co-terminated with footshock (0.5 mA; 5.0 s maximum duration). SES mice (n = 9) always received shock but could terminate it by moving to the non-occupied chamber in a shuttlebox. Yoked SIS mice (n = 9) were treated identically, but could not alter shock duration. Training with SES or SIS was conducted over 2 days to stabilize responses. Afterwards, the mice received saline, CRF [0.4 μg (0.42 mM) or AST (1.0 μg (1.4 mM)] prior to SES or SIS. Sleep was analyzed over 20 h post-stress recordings. After administration of saline, REM was significantly greater in SES mice than in SIS mice whereas after CRF or AST, REM was similar in both groups. Total 20 h NREM did not vary across condition or group. However, after administration of saline and CRF, NREM episode duration was significantly decreased, and NREM episode number significantly increased, in SIS mice compared to SES animals. SES and SIS mice showed similar stress induced hyperthermia (SIH) across all conditions. These data demonstrate that CRF can mediate stress-induced changes in sleep independently of SIH, an index of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis activation.
Keywords: controllability; corticotropin releasing factor; escape learning; predictability; stress; stress-induced hyperthermia.